Braised Beef Cheek Orecchiette

Comfort food is my jam. It’s winter in Australia and Melbourne is COLD! As I’m typing this, the wind is howling through my trees in the backyard, the rain is pelting down on the roof and windows, and I am sat in front of my fire. I try to keep my eating light and healthy 80 percent of the time but the other 20 percent is my time to indulge in food that I love to both cook and eat. Pasta isn’t an everyday food for me so this dish is a real treat. Slow cooked beef cheeks, pasta, crusty sourdough bread and a glass of shiraz brings a big smile to my face. This is comfort food at its very best, and cold wintery weekends are my time to indulge and cosy up.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 4 hours
Serves 4

What you’ll need:

4 beef cheeks
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 onions, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
2 rosemary sprigs, chopped
250 ml red wine
500 ml beef stock
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
40 gm unsalted butter
500 gm orecchiette pasta
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 140°C.

Place oil in a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan over a high heat. Season the beef cheeks with salt and pepper and brown all over then remove from pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining oil, onion, celery and carrot and cook until the onion is soft but not browned. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Return the beef cheeks and add the herbs, wine, stock and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with lid, transfer to oven for 3 – 3½ hours until fork tender.

Meanwhile, in the last 15 minutes of the beef cooking time, cook the orecchiette in salted boiling water according to packet instructions, (reserving half a cup of pasta water).

Remove beef from oven and discard bay leaves. Use two forks to pull apart and shred the meat into the sauce, discarding any fat or sinew. Add the butter and stir the cooked pasta through the sauce, adding the pasta water a little at a time until the sauce is nice and silky. Season with salt and pepper and top with fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

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